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NTID caps career for Davila

Robert Davila, RIT vice president for the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID), is a master of the succinct. Given the chance to reflect on his career at NTID and the path that brought him here, he offers simply, "I saved the best for last . . . I will retire from this job." Davila, 69, steps down in July.

Prior to his arrival at NTID in 1996, he served as U.S. Department of Education assistant secretary for special education and rehabilitative services, headmaster of the New York School for the Deaf, vice president of Gallaudet University, and president of virtually every leading national organization related to the education of deaf persons.

His passion for improving the lives of young deaf people through education undoubtedly is shaped in part by his own childhood. Becoming profoundly deaf at the age of 8; being sent to a school for the deaf 500 miles from home by his widowed mother, a Spanish-speaking migrant worker with seven other children; learning to forge his path in life without the guidance of a father - these experiences shaped the man whose daunting work ethic and passion for education have guided NTID into the 21st century.

He is particularly proud of the efforts of faculty and staff who have helped double the college's endowment (now $22.2 million), increase the number of minority students from 20 percent to 23 percent (241 students), increase the number of grants and contracts, and make NTID a more integral part of the university.

One of his personal successes is NTID's master of science degree program in secondary education (MSSE), which he lobbied to have folded into NTID. This program, which prepares graduate students to become teachers of deaf students, is "a fantastic investment," he says. "Graduates are being gobbled up for jobs and soon we'll have students applying to NTID who are better prepared because of the preparation they have received from these teachers."

He is equally proud of NTID's international reputation as a leader in postsecondary education for deaf persons. "We know more than anyone in the world about how to integrate deaf and hearing students in classrooms," he says. "And we've opened numerous doors for deaf students in fields of study that were virtually closed to them when I was of college age."

"We're doing a great job in helping students transition from NTID to the larger university and to the world of employment," he continues. "And we know we're succeeding because of the high percentage of graduates who told us, via our recent alumni survey, that they were satisfied with the educational preparation they received here. More than 4,500 alumni are employed in occupations commensurate with their level of training."

"NTID's purpose is to help young deaf people acquire the knowledge and develop skills they will need to face and overcome the challenges that await them in the competitive world of work. Preparation and instruction of these young adults is at the heart of this Institute."